The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority have submitted two planning applications to the borough of Waltham Forest which are to be decided on at Tuesday evening’s WF Planning Committee meeting. This really is a last ditch attempt to save Leyton Marsh, and it would be fantastic to have a really large demonstration on the Town Hall steps and a lot of support in the Council Chamber for this meeting. Abigail Woodman of Save Lea Marshes will be speaking against the proposals, as will Katy Andrews and John Gilbert of the Lammas Lands Defence Committee and NE London CPRE is also planning to speak.
The Borough’s Officers are recommending that both of these applications should be approved.
The proposals are in fact completely against the borough’s own Local Development Framework and BAP and against the London Plan.
The first of the applications is to build a huge livery stable at the Riding Centre. This means stabling where privately-owned horses can be kept and cared for by the Riding Centre staff on payment of a very high fee. This is of absolutely no benefit to local residents, yet it is taking place on our Lammas Lands by an organisation which is supposed to be providing recreational facilities for Londoners whilst protecting the openness and biodiversity of the Lea Valley – London’s “Green Lung.” So much land at the Riding Centre has already been covered in the stables (there are now 90 horses in an area where originally 24 ponies were given planning permission) that it is already built up beyond the limits of acceptability for Metropolitan Open Land.
The other is to fence the public out from the entire Golf Course south of Lea Bridge Road, which the LVRPA hid from public view about 15 years ago by building a visitors’ centre and massive car-park between the golf course and Lea Bridge Road. Before that the area was open and could be seen to be open.
This the LVRPA want to use as a private trailer park and camp-site including for motor-homes. The use would be permanent, not time-limited, and open all year round. So local people would be fenced out of our Lammas Lands all day every day, and there would be loss of yet more precious open space with immense biodiversity potential.
Although Planning Committee members will not be told this, the LVRPA’s eventual aim is to cover this area with “pixie-hut” holiday chalets; if this change of use is accepted on Tuesday, then it would cover that as well as a more innocuous-sounding “camping” use.
As with the first application, there is absolutely no benefit to local people for this. We would lose access to our local Lammas Rights (commuted in 1905 from the right to graze cattle to the right of “free access in perpetuity for the purposes of relaxation and recreation” and sadly “suspended” by the Compulsory Purchase Order of the land by the LVRPA in 1971).
As part of the second application, the LVRPA also want to put in a paddock above the flood relief channel where it flows underground into the River Lea, for ponies to be used for pony trekking. There would not be any shelter there for the ponies, and the LVRPA say that they will be led across Lea Bridge Road twice per day to get there and back. There are a number of significant animal welfare issues about this.
If these applications go through next Tuesday, Leyton Marshes will effectively have ceased to exist as a contiguous whole and as an open space.
If passed, there is no possibility of an Appeal, but the way would be open to a) a formal Complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman; and/or b) Judicial Review (although JR can only be used against the process that was used, and in this case the grounds would have to be that officers gave insufficient consideration to higher legislation) and/or application for an injunction against any work starting to build more stables or to fence off the Golf Course. If passed, we would expect both to begin immediately, especially as the LVRPA have been taking bookings for the as yet non-existent camp-site over their website since early May.
Please join us on the steps of Waltham Forest Town Hall, from 6.30pm on Tuesday 2nd July to protest against yet more destructive plans for Leyton Marshes.
The planning committee meeting begins at 7pm.